Photo Credit: Todd Kulesza/Wikimedia Commons
When he’s not commissioning, you can often catch newly inaugurated Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz at a concert. As part of a recent Q&A, we asked hizzoner to talk about a few of his favorite local bands and shows.
Athens-Clarke County's new Politburo Mayor and Commission will be sworn during a 5:30 p.m. ceremony today at City Hall.
After winning a three-way race in May, Commissioner Kelly Girtz will officially take over for Mayor Nancy Denson, who was limited to two terms. Look for a Q&A with Girtz in Wednesday's edition of Flagpole.
Taking Girtz's District 9 seat will be longtime school board member and community organizer Ovita Thornton. Other new commissioners include:
Athens-Clarke County is accepting public input on what residents want to see from a new ACCPD chief.
"As we consider Police Chief candidates throughout our search process," Williams said in a news release, "it is important to me that any member of the community has an opportunity to express their thoughts as to what are important characteristics, qualities, and priorities of the next Police Chief that we should consider during our reviews."
Residents can fill out an online form, pick up a print form at the manager's office in Room 301 of City Hall or at the police station on Lexington Road, or leave a verbal comment by calling 706-224-3202.
Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
After a divisive campaign, Gov.-elect Brian Kemp called for unity Tuesday in his first major speech since winning a close and hard-fought election. Taking a different tone than what voters heard on the campaign trail, he appealed to state legislators to “put politics behind us.”
The speech at the University of Georgia’s Biennial Institute, a three-day training session for state legislators, came months after Kemp emerged from a bruising Republican primary in July and just weeks after he repeatedly called Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams a radical extremist.
“It’s time to shed the labels and work together as Georgians. It’s time to stand up for our communities, our families and our Georgia values,” Kemp said. “It’s time to protect the vulnerable. It’s time to do the right thing—even when no one is looking.”
The Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections broke state law when it went into executive session in September to discuss opening an early voting site at Cedar Shoals High School, according to the ACC Attorney’s office.
Tension continued in the Board of Elections on Tuesday as they discussed the closed-door meeting. The attorney’s office concluded the board was in violation of the Georgia Open Meetings act. Assistant county attorney John Hawkins provided the results of the review to board members.
On Sept. 4, the BOE decided to go to executive session to discuss “personnel matters” since more poll workers would be needed for an additional early voting location. Under the Open Meetings Act, the board is permitted to go to executive session if it involved personnel matters. However, other topics were discussed, and the personnel exemption is meant to cover discussions about specific employees or candidates for positions, not hiring more personnel in general.
Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
It’s been four months since Bird scooters began hatching around downtown Athens and soaring through the University of Georgia campus in August as part of the company’s nationwide “University Pop-Up Tour.”
After a week, university officials began confiscating Birds on campus, and ACCPD and UGAPD later started ticketing riders who did not obey the law. Now, Bird scooters are causing another problem for University of Georgia officials since the company has refused to pick up the impounded scooters or pay fines.
As of Nov. 19, the University of Georgia had confiscated a total of 1,096 Bird scooters since August and stored them in the Carlton Street parking deck. At that time, Bird owed the university $504,360, according to UGA spokesperson Rebecca Beeler.
The Watkinsville City Council has hired Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Sharyn Dickerson as its first-ever city administrator, according to the Oconee Enterprise.
“I’m super, super excited about the vision this mayor and council have,” Dickerson told the Enterprise. “I’m so grateful for the meaningful, thoughtful, deliberative process that the mayor and council have gone through to bring someone in. It’s a dream job; it’s my dream job, and I look forward to serving the community.”
Photo Credit: Bailey Brautigan/Pexels
This Sunday, Athens restaurants can start pouring mimosas and bloody marys for early risers—and by early, I mean 10-ish.
At a called voting meeting prior to their agenda-setting meeting Tuesday night, the Athens-Clarke County Commission unanimously approved an ordinance pushing up the time when restaurants can start serving alcohol on Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 11 a.m.
Photo Credit: Blake Aued
In any other year it would have been a mere formality. But an Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections meeting on Monday to certify the county's vote ended with a vote to recount eight precincts on an extremely tight deadline before sending the results on to the state.
Newly appointed board member Jesse Evans submitted petitions to conduct a "recanvassing" in eight out of 24 precincts: Howard B. Stroud, Clarke Central, Lay Park, the multimodal center, Whitehead Road (which includes both 5A and 5B), Chase Street and Cedar Shoals.
Under state law, three voters in a precinct can submit a notarized request to trigger a "recanvassing"—essentially a recount, followed by testing of voting machines—if they believe there is a discrepancy. Commissioners Melissa Link and Mariah Parker and Commissioner-elect Tim Denson worked with voters in their districts to submit the petitions, according to Link.
That triggered a three-hour discussion among board members and attorneys—as well as, at times, some of the 20 or so activists who attended the meeting and interjected or were given permission to speak—about whether such a recanvassing could even be accomplished.
The law requires a quorum of the Board of Elections and the poll manager for each precinct to be present, as well as giving notice to all of the candidates on the ballot and political parties so they can attend or send a representative. And the recanvassing has to be accomplished by mid-afternoon today, or ACC will be in violation of another state law requiring counties to certify their vote totals by 5 p.m.
"This is all news to me," ACC Attorney Bill Berryman said when he learned about the petitions. He asked for and received an hour-long recess to research this issue.
Three local political groups want answers on why Scott Freeman is no longer chief of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.
The Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition, the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement and Athens for Everyone—representing the Latinx community, African Americans and progressives, respectively—issued a statement over the weekend demanding "clarity" on Freeman's departure.
Freeman made a concerted effort to reach out to minority communities and refused to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement during his three-plus years as chief. He resigned under pressure last Thursday, with his boss, ACC Manager Blaine Williams, citing problems with attrition.
According to the groups' statement:
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